Published: Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
The final exam season is swiftly approaching, and along with it comes the looming expectation to complete course reviews. Course reviews are mandated by the University as a method by which students can reflect upon a professor's performance over the past semester. Professors then can utilize the comments to help them shape and structure their courses in the future. Students who participate are promised early access to their final grades on Agora. The reward system persuades students to complete the reviews, but the content of the reviews and their posting have been mishandled lately.
While the intention of course reviews may be to offer feedback for professors, they can benefit students, as well, particularly during the registration period. Browsing the professor evaluation profiles (PEPs) on the Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC) Web site has become fruitless. Once the primary forum for browsing potential courses, PEPs have become outdated and no longer offer useful information about courses or professors.
Student Services tried to ease this process by making the course reviews partially public on Agora Portal. The service only offers the statistical data compiled from course reviews, though, and does not offer any responses to the open-ended questions. Open-ended responses often contain the most trenchant information regarding course content and teaching style, but they are not accessible. This system also gives new professors a three-semester reprieve before their reviews are posted, leaving little information for students looking to explore open classes with new professors.
Allowing student course reviews to be fully public has the potential to benefit both students and faculty. One issue that often results from the present format is that the statistical data is inaccurate. Students fill out the entries without thought to secure their grades quickly, skewing the statistics. Publishing the full reviews would encourage students to take the process more seriously and would yield more thorough and helpful responses. These responses serve not only the students, but the professors, too. More thoughtful critiques of courses can truly assist in the process of reconsidering and reshaping future curricula. If action is taken toward this cause, the reward could be greater than a final grade received several days early.